Monday, January 14, 2013

Garbo Speaks

Justice Clarence Thomas has broken his seven-year silence in Supreme Court arguments.  More exciting yet, it was to disagree with the ventriloquist who controls him his friend and colleague, Justice Scalia.

Was it to ask some sharp question of an overreaching attorney?  To argue some fine point of law, or to shed light upon an obscure corner of the matter at hand?  Sadly, no.  It was to bash his alma mater.

In the course of an argument about whether a particular person had received adequate representation at his trial, Scalia proposed that, since one of the the fellow's attorneys had gone to Harvard and another to Yale , his representation must have been good enough.  And then, per the Wall Street Journal,
Amid crosstalk among the justices — all of whom attended either Harvard or Yale — Justice Thomas made a remark to the effect that if the lawyer went to Yale, the defendant must not have received competent counsel, according to several people present.
Oh, Clarence.  You really don't get this clubhouse jocularity thing, do you?  The idea is to poke fun at the other guy's school.

Thomas, the Journal reminds us, has long been publicly and viscerally hostile to the place that trained him for his profession.  In that sense, this was just a predictable jibe from an unpleasant and unhappy man.

On the other hand, however, this is a bit like the paradox of Epimenides, adverted to in Titus 1:12, about prevaricating Cretans.  If, that is, lawyers trained at Yale are good for nothing, and if Clarence Thomas was trained at Yale, then logically ....

Thomas has raised an interesting question here.  perhaps he will address it further the next time he opens his mouth.  On the current schedule, this should be about January, 2020.

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